Augmented Reality (AR) is one of the most talked about technological innovations today. It is the super-imposition of computer generated images on our physical world. As dull as this sounds, this technology has the WOW factor to blow us away completely. Not only does it have the potential to change the way we interact with our surroundings but it can also revolutionize our physical reality itself. The most popular instance of this technology is the Snapchat avatars that most of us fiddle around with on our phones. But, that is just the tip of the iceberg as AR has the potential to permeate into all aspects of our life, be it education, healthcare, entertainment or even food. To give you a taste of how cool this technology is, we have curated some of the most offbeat ways this technology is being used to change our reality.
1. Augmented Reality Driving
The age of manual pedometers and navigation tools with small screens is over. AR has changed the way drivers interact with cars. There’s no need for meters, screens or wires anymore because our windshields are enough now. Be it the pedometer, navigation, calls and notifications, everything will be superimposed in front of your eyes on an augmented reality Heads-Up Display. The best part about this is that it is not just limited to display of information, you can even interact with the interface using gestures while keeping your heads up so your eyes are never off the road. One example of such a service is Navdy, which provides drivers with a transparent dashboard UI that is connected to the driver's smartphone. This heads-up display pulls information from a mobile app installed on the driver’s phone. Drivers can interact with Navdy using voice commands and hand gestures which are mapped using a camera in front of the driver. Take a look at their concept video to see how COOL it is:
2. Digital Avatars
From the advent of games such as GTA to Snapchat’s Bitmoji, we have all been obsessed with creating our digital avatars and playing around with them. Controlling a digital version of ourselves gives us a sense of thrill and power to do things we cannot do in real life. Before AR came in, digital avatars were controlled with gaming controllers, keyboards and screen taps but now that is set to change. To understand how AR can enhance our interaction with our digital avatars, take a look at WOWSOME’s Twin Persona. It introduces the notion of full body interaction with your augmented reality avatar using sensors and a screen. The digital persona imitates every action of yours, giving you the power to be in control of the character with your own movements. Here’s how it looks and feels like:
3. Smart Shopping
We all prefer to try new outfits before buying them but in the age of ecommerce it hardly seems possible. While efforts are being put by retail stores to match the seamless experience of online shopping, e-commerce players are trying to make the whole process more immersive by using augmented reality clothing along with interactive mirror technology. Let us look at both the sides. In 2010, Cisco introduced a Virtual Fashion Mirror that allowed the consumers to try out different outfits virtually while standing in front of a smart interactive mirror at retail outlets. Not only was it way ahead of its time but it gave a competitive edge to retail stores by giving their customers a unique experience. Take a look at their demo video. Recently, even E-commerce platforms have entered the AR space with Amazon, Gap and IKEA offering their own augmented reality services. Amazon and IKEA provide a service using which you can preview how a piece of furniture will look on your selected floor location before making a purchase.
4. Theme Parks
Theme parks and amusements parks have long since tried to make their rides and attractions seem more life-like. What better way to do that than use AR? Most theme parks are using two common ways to integrate AR into their experience: mobile applications and large-screen AR setups. Some augmented reality theme parks have their own apps that let you interact with the environment at the park and take the experience to the next level by putting in live scenes and some surprises for the users. Parks like Universal Studios, Orlando have put up smart digital mirrors to create an Augmented Reality scene for users to interact with. As part of the experience, users witness life-size dinosaurs which respond to their actions as well. Take a look at it in the video below:
5. Augmented Reality Marketing
While AR has its fair share of cool use cases, it also helps organizations get more visibility and opens up a new dimension in advertising through virtual banners and customer engagement. Virtex Apps launched Virtex Arena, a multiplayer Augmented Reality game that lets you engage with the sports pitch during breaks at live sporting events. Imagine you’re at a football game and during half-time you can take out your phone to play a live game of football in an augmented reality world with your favourite players. Another product that engages customers is WOWSOME’s Guerilla Game, an augmented reality game which transforms the user’s hands into containers on an on-screen game. To market your product, you can use this game where the users can collect as many of your products as possible with the on-screen containers in their hands and reward them for it, while keeping them engaged with your brand.
The field of Augmented Reality is exciting and with use cases growing each day, it is potentially going to permeate almost all aspects of our lives soon. What we explored in this article is but the tip of the iceberg. Hopefully we will see more unexpected and intriguing use of AR in the future which will make the world around us more alive and our experiences more life-like.